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Developıng a wınnıng

Developıng a wınnıng sports event strategy

Written by a renowned international management consultancy specialised in
the world of sport, this book provides public sector bodies with a shortcut to

sports event strategy

developing a winning approach for their investment in sports events; an
approach that has been developed and tested in various different cities and
regions around the world.

TSE Consulting works at the senior executive level with a wide variety of cities
and regions. The company provides consulting services related to the develop-
ment, implementation and communication of sports event strategies, as well
A four-step approach for

as other strategic and communication services focusing on attracting major

successful bidding and hosting

sports events.

by TSE Consulting
Developıng a wınnıng
sports event strategy

A four-step approach for

successful bidding and hosting
by TSE Consulting

Edited by:
Lars Haue-Pedersen, Caroline Anderson

Contributions by:
Greg Curchod, Bettina Kuperman, Robin Courage, Dale Neuburger, Kenneth Quah, Jorgen
Hansen, Katia Popova, Debbie Szalejko, Grant Boles and Tanya Ng Yuen.

Published by
TSE Consulting Publishing

“Developing a winning sports event strategy – a four-step approach for

successful bidding and hosting” by TSE Consulting

Published by TSE Consulting Publishing

Copyright © 2010 by TSE Consulting SA, Switzerland

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part
in any form.

Design and lay-out by Hacettepe University and Greg Curchod.

Printed on recycled, acid-free paper fiber at Hacettepe University,

Cover photo: Getty Images; IAAF World Championships 2009, Berlin,

Chapter photos: courtesy of Sport Event Denmark, INDE/Monterrey,

Amsterdam, Poznan, Vancouver, Lausanne and Istanbul.

About TSE Consulting

TSE Consulting was established in 2002 as an international management

consultancy specialising in the world of sport.

With its head office in Lausanne, Switzerland, and regional offices in North
America, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia, TSE’s clients include both
national and international sports organisations as well as public sector
clients who are investing in sport. Working together with its clients in the
sports world and public sector, TSE connects these two partners allowing
cooperation and integration of their strategies for mutual benefits.

Specifically working with public sector organisations, TSE provides con-

sulting services related to the development, implementation and com-
munication of sports event strategies, as well as other strategic and com-
munication services focused on attracting major sports events.

TSE also provides consulting in the areas of sports management, sports

performance, digital strategy, communication and PR, event appraisal,
campaigning and environmental-impact planning.

Over the years, consultants from TSE have published numerous articles
in various national and international publications. This is the second book
for the company. Its first book, The New Sports Organisation – eight es-
sentials for renewing the management of sport, was published in 2009.


Acknowledgments 7

Introducing a four-step approach 8

Step I – Researching 13
Chapter 1: Understanding the sports event industry 15
Chapter 2: Competitor analyses and positioning 27
Chapter 3: Securing support 43

Step II – Strategising 59
Chapter 4: Strategy development 61
Chapter 5: Setting up the structure 81
Chapter 6: Models for event appraisal 93

Step III – Campaigning 109

Chapter 7: Bid campaign strategy 111
Chapter 8: Tools and tactics of a bid campaign 129
Chapter 9: Beyond the bid 151

Step IV – Activating 161

Chapter 10: Place branding 163
Chapter 11: Creating social impact  177
Chapter 12: Environmental initiatives 197

Concluding a four-step approach 209

References 211

Links 215

It is my belief that this book truly captures the essence of our company’s
thinking and approach toward the public sector’s involvement in bidding
for and hosting sports events. Credit is due to the listed authors, all of
whom are consultants working within TSE Consulting, for drawing on
their knowledge and experience to put this book together.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to our clients. Without their
support and trust, we would not have had the opportunity to test our ideas
and learn from our experiences. We have been fortunate to work with
a vast mixture of public sector and sports clients, all of whom we have
learned from and been inspired by inspired by. A special thank you goes
to the Senior Executives who contributed to this book via interviews and
providing feedback for case studies.

While working with each of our clients we gain new insights and we hope
that our readers will also share their experiences and feedback with us as
well. Contact us at with comments, feedback
or stories.

Lars Haue-Pedersen
Managing Director, TSE Consulting

Lausanne, Switzerland - April 2010


Introducing a four-step
approach for successful bidding
and hosting
It took private companies almost 25 years to find a business approach
that actually made investing in sport – and in sports events in particu-
lar – worthwhile. The route to finding a professionalised approach was
filled with mistakes that resulted in a lot of wasted time and money, but
ultimately led to a sophisticated, results-driven approach used by busi-
nesses undertaking sports sponsorship projects.

This book is meant to provide a shortcut for public sector bodies of all
sizes, experiences and resources to ensure that they do not waste the
same amount of time, money and resources in developing a winning ap-
proach for their investment in sports events.

It has been written for individuals and departments in the public sector
whose responsibility it is to enter the sports event market and who will need
to learn as they go. At the same time, however, we believe that rights holders
in the industry – those organisations supplying the events – can also use this
book to establish some guidelines on how to adjust their product offer when
dealing with cities to ensure a long-term benefit for their events.

The public sector’s involvement in sports events, including the business of

bidding for and hosting sports events, has developed rapidly. Sports events

rights holders and competing public sector bodies have had to adapt and

learn quickly. As a result, bidding for sports events has become much more
professional and requires a magnitude of skills, knowledge and resources.
Hosting events has also become a professionalised business where hosts
are no longer expected to simply deliver on the technical demands of the
event; they are expected to develop the sport further and improve the event
so that it is a better product ready to be passed on to the next host.

The ‘professionalisation’ of the industry and the growing competition

among potential hosts has led to greater financial strain on the public
sector. Why then do cities continue to invest?

Simply put, the return on the investment is deemed to be worthy. The

factual evidence may still be weak demonstrating the actual benefits of
such an investment, but the perception in the market certainly continues
to exist: sports events do indeed bring tremendous benefits to their hosts.

The industry, therefore, continues to attract new cities to enter the market.
Many of these new cities, however, are simply following the crowd. As they
watch competing cities get international media coverage as a result of
bidding for and hosting events, they decide they also need to get involved
to remain a competitive city on a global level.

Despite minimal documented, research-based evidence in the industry,

our experience working with various public sector bodies around the
globe leaves no doubt that bidding for and hosting sports events, when
approached in the right way, provides substantial benefits for a city and
helps to achieve a wide variety of government objectives.

For cities to achieve their sports event objectives, they must view their
sports event strategy as an on-going process. A sports event should never
be a ‘one-off’ experience. Rather, a city should approach each event that
it bids for or hosts as an integral stage of a long-term strategic plan and
an opportunity to fine-tune its processes.

To design, implement and refine these processes, cities must have a

clear path to follow. This book lays out that path using the ‘TSE Sports

Event Strategy Wheel’, a simple, yet comprehensive four-step approach

to bidding for and hosting events. It has been developed in cooperation

with and tested on a number of different public sector clients across the
globe. Using the TSE Sports Event Strategy Wheel ensures that no event
ever stands alone. Instead, each event is part of a long-term sports event

TSE Sports Event Strategy Wheel

look and listen

market and maximise plan and prepare

bid and benefit

The wheel has four spokes: Step I: Researching, Step II: Strategising,
Step III: Campaigning and Step IV: Activating. This book is structured to
follow these steps.

For each step, we describe important aspects crucial to the success of a

sports strategy. Each aspect forms a chapter supported by practical case
examples and interviews. In addition, we use the terms “public sector” and
“city” throughout this book to refer to cities, regions and countries collectively.

Of course, each city is different and will develop a different strategy, but
the steps, considerations and tools needed to succeed are similar from
case to case. There is a lot of common learning that can be shared, help-
ing each city to succeed in its own way.

The first three chapters of the book fall under Step I: Researching. Chap-

ter 1 provides an overview of the international sports event industry and
introduces the key players, systems and how the industry works. Chapter
2 describes how a city can identify and analyse its competitors to position
itself properly within the market. Chapter 3 provides insight on how a city
can bring together all of its internal stakeholders to generate the appro-
priate support needed for the city to succeed.

In Step II: Strategising, cities plan and prepare to enter the competitive
market. Chapter 4 outlines the essential elements for developing the
right strategy. Chapter 5 sheds light on how to set up the best internal
structure to ensure the right people and processes are in place to im-
plement the strategy. Chapter 6 presents different models for event ap-
praisal that can help cities decide which events can help them to reach
their objectives.

Step III: Campaigning outlines the tactics and tools needed to campaign
effectively and win the right to host events. This step includes the most
visible activities that a city will likely undertake thus far in the wheel.
Chapter 7 explores the essential elements to consider when developing
an effective bid campaign strategy. Chapter 8 provides an overview of the
tools that can be used during a bid campaign. Chapter 9 looks at how cit-
ies can benefit from a bid campaign even if they do not succeed in winning
the right to host the event.

The final step, Step IV: Activating, takes place when events have been se-
cured and the city is gearing up to host the event. After all the research-
ing, strategising and campaigning, this is the time when a city needs to
ensure that the benefits of hosting an event are maximised. The chapters
in this step look at three different types of benefits that an event can gen-
erate. Chapter 10 looks into the international marketing opportunities
that hosting a prominent sports event can create. Chapter 11 provides a
framework for producing social benefits from an event. And Chapter 12
looks at how a sports event can activate environmental initiatives.

The industry is still evolving and much research still needs to be done.
Because research and documentation are limited, the industry as a whole

depends primarily on the experiences of a few key specialists. As such,

this book is primarily based on our observations working with clients on

a variety of projects over the past several years.

It may be a risk for us to put forth our opinions and offer our advice so
openly. We recognize these risks, but we truly believe that it is the right
time to document and share our ideas. We have included best practice
cases and interviews from industry insiders who have proven experience
and track records. We hope to present some practical ideas, but we are
not looking to set the theoretical framework for the entire industry.

We hope that the TSE Sports Event Strategy Wheel provides insight and
inspiration. It is a wheel, and therefore, it should turn continually. No mat-
ter where a city may find itself on the wheel today, it should be focused on
moving to the next step and continuing on its path to success. However,
each time it moves through a step it has experienced before, a city should
approach the step with more insight and understanding than it did the
first time. It is this continuous improvement, planning and learning that
makes a truly successful sports event city.

There is no single solution that works for each city. It is up to each city to
decide on their own strategy and decide how they will get the wheel mov-
ing. The key is to set the wheel in motion and make sure it continues to
turn even faster, producing more benefits every year.

Step I:

look and listen

market and maximise plan and prepare

bid and benefit

Like most strategic endeavours, it is best to start the development of a

sports event strategy by doing some research. Too often cities enter the
market because an opportunity arises to host a sports event, or a single
politician decides that his or her city or country needs to host a sports
event. However, to get the most from investing in sports events, it is im-
portant to have an understanding of the market and industry. This is why
research is so important to a successful sports event strategy.

Research, however, is a never-ending process. There is a constant need

to know more about the market. It is also important to understand the

internal functions of the city, including the objectives and needs of each

stakeholder involved in or affected by the city’s involvement and invest-

ment in sports events.

There are many different aspects of research that are important. We have
chosen three distinct, yet inter-related aspects on which a city should

In Chapter 1, Understanding the sports industry, the fundamentals of the

industry are outlined to provide cities with a basis of understanding on
how to become an active player in the competitive market. The industry is
presented in a national, continental and international context.

A valuable part of the research step is analysing the competitors and de-
veloping a competitive position within the market. This is what Chapter 2,
Competitor analysis and positioning, examines. There are always more
cities that want to host events than there are events to host, so identify-
ing a position that is differentiated from the rest is a true key to success.

The final part of the research step examines how a city can secure in-
ternal support for its involvement in sports events. Chapter 3, Securing
support, highlights the internal perspectives that must be aligned be-
fore entering the market. This means not only understanding who all the
stakeholders are, but also ensuring that they are united in a common
mission to succeed.

In Step I, a city will start to turn the wheel in the right direction by taking
the time to look and listen.

1  nderstanding the sports
    event industry
The organisation of international sport is actually quite basic. With few
exceptions, the global, regional and national structure of sport is similar
across all sports and fairly simple to understand.

All sports are ‘controlled’ by a governing body that has a regulatory or

sanctioning function. Sports governing bodies come in various forms and
have a variety of functions. They also have different scopes. For example,
they may cover a range of sports at an international level (e.g. the Inter-
national Olympic Committee), or only a single sport at a national level (e.g.
a national football federation).

It was primarily in Europe in the late 1800s that the organisers of national
sporting competitions saw the need for a governing authority to admin-
ister their sport on an international basis. This way all participants from
all countries would know they were playing on a level playing field under
the same rules. And so it was that the first international federations were
formed at the end of the 19th century.

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the administration of

sport has remained relatively consistent. Although sports governing bod-
ies are becoming more professional in their approach, they continue to be
managed primarily by former athletes and officials of their sport.

Because all the major sports are governed in a similar fashion, we will
use just one sport as an example.

FIFA at a glance

Sport (like many other industries) has adopted acronyms to identify its
governing bodies. Most of these governing bodies tend to believe, wrongly
in our opinion, that the whole world will immediately identify with them
and attach value to this often random collection of letters. However, one
international governing body generally recognised by its acronym around
the globe is FIFA.

The chart below identifies the global structure of football (soccer), with FIFA
as its governing body at the top of the pyramid. The national associations
(e.g. the English Football Association, the Cameroon Football Association,
etc.) are the contracted Member Associations of FIFA. These national as-
sociations are often described by other sports as ‘national federations’ or
national governing bodies (NGBs). Member Associations agree to abide by
the rules of the game and organise themselves under the FIFA constitu-
tion. Every two years, Member Associations attend the FIFA Congress, a
meeting of the members to vote on any changes to the rules of the game,
the election of its governing officers or any changes to the constitution.1

FIFA organisational structure




Leagues / Clubs / Players

1 See:

These Member Associations are organised into Continental Associations,

or Confederations. For example, the Continental Association in Europe
is UEFA, and in Africa it is CAF (both acronyms are based on the French
spelling of their organisations, which is common among international
sports organisations).

A Member Association is responsible for the development of the sport

at all levels within its own country, which includes the organisation of
competitions at every level and every age group and the management of
competitive leagues, etc. The Confederations are responsible for the or-
ganisation of such leagues and competitions within their continents (e.g.
Champions League or African Championships).

In addition to governing the sport, FIFA is responsible for organising

competitions among its Member Associations at the global level. This in-
cludes its pinnacle event, the FIFA World Cup, as well as World Cups for
different age groups and sexes.

Managing the global sports calendar

If we were just to look at Olympic sports, each sport is represented by its

own governing body, or International Federation (IF), and most of these
sports have a number of different disciplines requiring their own compe-
tition schedule.

For example, aquatic sports are represented by the International Swim-

ming Federation, FINA, which is responsible for male and female com-
petition in Swimming, Diving, and Water Polo and women’s Synchronised
Swimming at the Olympic Games. Additionally, FINA represents Open
Water Swimming for both sexes, which is included in FINA’s own World

At the FINA 2009 World Championships in Rome, there were 2,556 ath-
letes from 185 countries taking part!2 It’s not really surprising, therefore,

2 See:

that every IF needs all the help and support that it can get from its part-

ners – including host cities.

Each IF is responsible for organising its own global calendar of events.

This would normally mean that every two years (in the case of Athletics or
Swimming, for example) or every four years (in the case of Football) each
IF would organise its own World Championships or World Cup.

As the governing bodies for their sport, IFs are responsible for the devel-
opment of their sport on a global basis. This means they also have to be
responsible for the organisation of World Championships for the lower
age groups participating in their sport (e.g. World Junior Championships,
World Youth Championships, etc.), as well as World Championships for
both sexes. Additionally, IFs manage the organisation of a number of ‘cir-
cuit’ events every year, events that take place throughout the year, every
year, featuring national teams or individuals representing their countries.
These circuit events include World Cup Skiing, Volleyball World League
(for men), Volleyball Grand Prix (for women), the FITA (Archery) World
Cup, etc.

Examples of successful circuit events are in sports where the athetes’ as-
sociations for those sports have become the organisers. For example, the
Association of Tennis Professionals’ ATP Tour or WTA Tour operate under
the rules of their IF, the International Tennis Federation, but manage the
organisation of their annual circuits themselves. A similar situation exists
with golf, where the various continental player associations (USPGA, etc.)
organise their own tours, including the PGA Tour in the United States and
the PGA European Tour in Europe. The rules of play for these tours are
governed by the IF, or in this case, two IFs – the United States Golf As-
sociation and the Royal & Ancient – which are the joint governing bodies
for the rules of golf.

Circuit events often take place in the same host cities each year. Examples
include Formula 1 Grand Prix events or tennis Grand Slams). This natu-
rally eases the pressure on the event owner or governing body, as they
deal with the same venues, the same organisers and the same hotels. It
becomes a tried and tested way for the IF to develop true partnerships

with their host cities. It also provides both parties with the opportunity to

develop that particular sport in that city as part of a long-term strategic

The multi-sport system

Sports also compete in multi-sport events, which have their own or-
ganisations. As their name implies, these multi-sport event organisers
are responsible for the organisation of events that feature more than
one sport. The best known example is the International Olympic Com-
mittee (IOC), the organiser of the modern Olympic Games. Other multi-
sport events include the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World
Games, etc. These events fall into a simple global, continental and na-
tional structure. However, there are also a number of large multi-sport
events created to suit some other form of geographical grouping (e.g.
the Games of the Small States of Europe, the Mediterranean Games or
the South Pacific Games), or to provide an opportunity for other social or
professional groups to compete against each other on a regular basis.

Increasingly, non-Olympic sports are vying for a place on the international

sports calendar. These sports have gotten together for their own multi-
sport events, the most famous of which is The X Games.

This event started as the Extreme Games in 1995, with the winter edition
added two years later. The events are organised by the US broadcaster,
ESPN, and are held annually, attracting up to a quarter of a million spec-
tators and global television coverage.3 Interestingly, several disciplines
pioneered at these events have been adopted by Olympic IFs and have
become mainstream Olympic events. The International Skiing Federation
(FIS) has successfully introduced snowboarding and freestyle skiing to
the Olympic Winter Games schedule, and UCI has brought BMX to the
Summer Olympic Games.

The IOC has its own national members (National Olympic Committees,

3 See:


The ‘Olympic Family’



or NOCs), whose main responsibility is delivering and funding its na-

tional team to compete at an Olympic Games. NOCs also receive fund-
ing from the IOC to assist them with this role. However, the Olympic
Games could not be organised without the support and involvement of
the IFs, who are responsible at the Games for managing the competi-
tion on the field of play by providing the IOC with their own officials and
sports management teams.

The evolving financial support for major events

At TSE we have always believed that the growth of international sport

requires the owners of major events to work much more closely with their
host cities and governments. These public sector partners must also
understand how their investment in major events can truly benefit their
country, their region, their city and their citizens.

Historically, however, sport has relied mainly on private and corporate

support. This initially came through the generosity of private benefactors
and companies whose love for sport translated into financial investments

in major events. Sport became reliant on sponsors, who fought continu-

ally for greater exposure for their brand at such events.

With the growth of new technologies came the growth of satellite televi-
sion and competition among broadcasters around the world to secure the
rights to major events and attract an audience and advertisers to their
channels. Suddenly, there was a new and valuable competition for what
had historically been seen only as “a nice extension of our event” by get-
ting it on television.

Owners of major events realised that they could charge huge fees for
the broadcasting rights and duly did so. Sponsors were happy with the
added exposure for their brands, but their financial support became less
important to the event owners as television had suddenly become the
major investor in these events.

Only in the past decade have event organisers realised that it is actually
their partners in the public sector who can provide financial support and
massive investments in infrastructure and value-in-kind. The public sec-
tor can play a partnership role with sport that can truly provide a win/win
situation for both parties.

Having worked with many cities around the world, and having devel-
oped close relationships with many of the leading international sports
organisations, we know how important it is for any city entering the
sports event market to build strategic relationships with the interna-
tional sports world.

Although the structure of international sports organisations is rather

simple, cities may find the world of international sport, at times, to be
very big and quite confusing.

Only Member Associations used to propose their city to host their respec-
tive IF’s world championships or world cups events. However, the world
has changed and most international governing bodies are not only happy
to speak directly with potential host cities, but actively encourage such


IFs have realised that their public sector partners can play a huge
role in hosting their major events and developing their sport in that
city and region. IFs are also starting to realise that they need to be
more flexible in the way their events are structured and presented so
their partnerships with host cities can be a two-way relationship that
benefits both parties.

This change in attitude has been difficult for the highly regimented early
sports administrators notoriously resistant to change. But these new
sports organisations, managed in a more businesslike manner, have ac-
cepted that change can be hugely beneficial. If a city is going to invest
considerable sums of money hosting an international sports event, then
quite rightly that city needs to be sure that this investment will reap sub-
stantial benefits.

Just getting started

Sport has become very big business, accounting for more than 2.5% of
GDP in western economies.4 It is encouraging to see that the number of
events increases each year as sports compete against each other for a
share of television airtime, sponsor funding and spectator appeal.

There is no shortage of major events for cities to target as part of their

overall events strategy. In the following chapters, we will look at how this
strategy should evolve and how a city should go about this process.

4 Chadwick, Simon (2009). Centre for the International Business of Sport at Coventry University


Sport Event Denmark: “The hard part was to get started;

now we feel more comfortable – but we still work hard
every day!”

An interview with Lars Lundov, CEO, Sport Event Denmark

Sport Event Denmark is the Danish national sports event or-

ganisation. Created in 1995 by the Danish government and
Danish sports organisations, Sport Event Denmark’s main ob-
jective is attracting and organising major international sports
events and sports congresses. In just a few years, the organi-
sation has establish itself as one of the leading players in the
international sports event market. In close cooperation with
various Danish host cities and organising committees, Sport
Event Denmark has succeeded in attracting a wide range of
major World and European Championships to Denmark in
many sports. These include Cycling, Sailing, Wrestling, Taek-
wondo, Handball and Badminton. Perhaps the biggest triumph


for Sport Event Denmark was hosting the 2009 IOC Session
and Olympic Congress in Copenhagen.

Lars Lundov (LL), CEO of Sport Event Denmark, has led the
organisation since its creation. He has a business background
from the financial sector, as well as sporting experience from
long-time involvement in Danish canoeing.

TSE: How did you manage to establish Sport Event Denmark

as one of the major players in the sports event industry, espe-
cially considering that Denmark is a relatively small country?

LL: It might sound obvious, but first of all, we just worked very hard.
We spent a lot of effort and resources being present in as many
places as possible as often as possible. We looked constantly for
opportunities to have face-to-face meetings with decision mak-
ers in the international sports world, sometimes just a 30-second
conversation. But this all adds up and suddenly you begin to create
an international network. When we succeeded in attracting many
major events to Denmark, we of course had a stronger platform to
showcase our capabilities and strengthen our relationships. The
hard part was getting started in the early years. Now we feel more
comfortable – but we still work hard every day!

TSE: How do you coordinate your bidding and hosting efforts

with Danish host cities and national federations?

LL: From the very beginning, we realised that a small country

like Denmark can only succeed internationally if we coordinate
all our resources. This means that we always work closely to-
gether with the various Danish host cities and the local or-
ganising committees, normally the national federations. We
call this cooperation ‘the sports event triangle,’ which means
that Sport Event Denmark never enters any bid on its own. Our

financial model is built on the same principle and we never
provide 100% of the finances needed for any project. We al-
ways require a financial commitment from the Danish host
city and the national federation must offer support in terms
of manpower, volunteers, technical expertise, etc. We feel
strongly that the results of both bidding for and hosting events
are much better when all three parties have to contribute. We
have also seen that the impacts we can create by hosting in-
ternational events – financially and in many other ways – are
much more significant when the host city and the sports or-
ganisations are involved from the very beginning.

TSE: What developments have you observed in the sports event

industry over the past years?

LL: The industry is getting more

mature. When we were established
in 1995, we sometimes felt like pio-
neers creating a new industry; now
we meet colleagues from all cor-
ners of the world when we attend
the major sports event conferences.
And a more mature industry means a
much higher degree of professional-
ism and sophistication, which again
requires more financial resources,
more experienced people and new creative ideas. Another trend
we have observed is the development of emerging markets.
When we started, we were competing mainly with European
countries and cities. Now we see new ambitious and resource-
ful players entering the market from South America, the Middle
East, Africa and various parts of Asia. It doesn’t make our job
easier, but it makes it more challenging – and we like that!


TSE: What advice would you give to a new city or country about
the international sports event market?

LL: Every city or country has different objectives and will have
to choose their own approach. I would, however, say that a key
factor for anyone entering this competitive market is having
a well-defined strategy with a clear focus and some kind of
differentiation compared to your competitors. You can waste
a lot of time and money going after events that you later find
out are not possible to win because you moved too fast and
hadn’t built sufficient credibility in the market at the time you
launched your bid. At the same time, you need to be ambitious
and constantly look for short-cuts so that you can win some
important bids and gain credibility. You can say that you need
‘the chicken’ and ‘the egg’ at the same time!

2  ompetitor analyses and
The previous chapter illustrated the myriad of options in the types of
sports events cities can choose from to achieve their objectives. However,
cities should not have the impression that the sports events industry is
a buyer’s market or that they can simply pick and choose what they like.

Even though there is a wide range of sports events to bid for and host, the
competition is tough. Bids for major world championships often feature
several cities, while the most highly coveted events – the FIFA World Cup
and the Summer Olympic Games – could have up to ten applicant cities.
If the sports events industry were a giant candy store, then there could be
hundreds of other kids in the store who want the very same things. You
are not alone!

When governments think about their approach to bidding and hosting

sports events, their considerations should not be limited to what their
intentions are or how they should engage with the rights holders of these
events. Cities must realise that they are in competition with other cit-
ies around the world. Unless this dimension is carefully factored into the
subsequent strategy, cities will get lost in the crowd.

This is why we advise cities to conduct a competitor analysis before even

beginning to think about their final strategic plan.

A competitor analysis is an objective overview and comparison between a

company (a city in this case) and its competitors. It is an integral part of

any strategic planning process because competitive strategies need to be

based on the knowledge of who the competition is, their relative strengths
and weaknesses and their strategies.

Similarly for cities, a competitor analysis is a useful tool that can assess
the competitive environment and help generate decision-relevant insights
for the city’s positioning and the subsequent strategy that it should follow.

More specifically, the competitor analysis will help the city to:
• Understand the competitive advantages and disadvantages relative to
its competitors
• Gain an understanding of its competitors’ strategies
• Provide an informed basis to develop a positioning that will help the
city achieve a competitive advantage going forward

These insights will collectively provide the basis for developing a success-
ful sports event strategy.

Determining who the competitors are

Identifying the relevant competitors is crucial. It is as important as the

actual competitor analysis because identifying the “wrong” competitors
to analyse will result in irrelevant or misleading insights. For a city to
identify its competitors correctly, a few principles should be observed.

First, identify the market segment. Not every city that has a sports event
ambition is a competitor. Earlier, we mentioned the risk of governments
not realising the extent of the competition that they are up against. It is
equally as detrimental to view every city with an interest in hosting sports
events as competitors.

Such an outlook is equivalent to suggesting that since Coca-Cola is a bev-

erage, every beverage in the market, including different brands of beers
and espressos, are competitors. While there is some element of truth
in this, such a view does not help a city correctly identify relevant com-
petitors to gain insights that lead to better positioning strategies. First,

cities must clarify which market segment they are competing in within

the sport events industry.

To give an example, one of our clients focused on developing a self-

sustaining sports industry that offers a platform for the world of inter-
national sports to be part of and benefit from. Therefore, the client city
should benchmark itself in the competitor analysis against cities with
a similar industry-focused approach. Having a clear idea of the mar-
ket space is often tied to a city’s objectives for hosting sports events
and will help a city define its market segment and identify the relevant

This leads us to the second point, which is to avoid excessively narrow

or broad definitions when defining who the competition is. Too narrow a
definition will exclude relevant competition. On the other hand, too broad
a definition will include too many peripheral or irrelevant competitors and
dilute the focus of the analysis.

While it generally takes some experience to be skilled at defining the cri-

teria of what constitutes competition, a good rule of thumb is to have three
to seven competitors for a competitor analysis. There may sometimes be
a need during this stage to step back to tweak the criteria in order to ar-
rive at a good number of competitors to work with for the analysis.

Principles of identifying competitors

Define the competition criteria:

MARKET Not every city that has a sports ambition is a competitor

Avoid narrow/broad definitions of competition:

SCOPE Valid competitors should fall within the chosen criteria

Consider current and potential competitors:

OUTLOOK Cities that are not competitors now might be in the future

The final point to note in identification of competitors is the importance of

not only considering current competition, but also potential competition.

Besides the current competition in the market segment, there is a need
to consider potential threats by taking into account entities that have a
suitable profile and minimal barriers of entry into the market to mount a
direct and credible challenge.

Such potential competitors tend to be cities that are already in competition

with the city in other industries and are often similar in the way that an in-
ternational audience would perceive them. Good examples are Gulf-Region
cities like Doha and Dubai. Potential competitors also tend to have a com-
bination of qualities such as financial muscle, available sporting infrastruc-
ture and human resource, all of which enable them to make a quick entry
into the market to compete. Because IFs and sports organisations view the
world predominantly in terms of continents and geographical regions, po-
tential competition would normally occur in the same geographical region
such that it could be a market substitute for the other city.

The relevance of considering potential competitors is that the positioning

and subsequent strategy that follows a competitor analysis needs to be
implemented over a couple of years. Since it takes time for positioning
to be communicated and built up, it would be costly not to take into ac-
count a strong potential competitor that could emerge the very next day.
Having said that, in order to balance this with the need to maintain focus
and keep to a reasonable handful of competitors in the analysis, we will
normally incorporate a maximum of the two or three most likely potential
competitors during the identification process.

Analysing the competition

The analysis stage of the competitor analysis aims to gather data about
the competitors identified and obtain valuable insights that would be use-
ful for developing the positioning and subsequent strategy.

During this research phase, the data that is gathered and the analysis
conducted for each city is structured as follows:

1. Overview of city, key organisations and strategy

2. Mapping a sports city profile hexagon
3. Summary of key strengths and weaknesses

The first section should contain all the background information pertaining to
each city. This includes any relevant information about the city, the key play-
ers within the city that will influence the strategic direction taken in sports
events and whether there is any known or perceived sports event strategy.

The sports city profile hexagon





The second part involves the use of the sports city profile hexagon, a pro-
filing tool to plot the profile for each city. This tool has been adapted from
Simon Anholt’s City Brands Index Hexagon, which we have customised to
suit the application for sports cities.5 This is done by scoring and plotting
the hexagon formed by six criteria, which are:

1. Presence – This is related to the city’s international status and stand-

ing both in sports and as a whole, and at the practical level, is about the
impression that the city evokes and the level of importance that the city
has in the hearts and minds of an international audience.

5 Simon, Anholt (2007). Competitive Identity: The new brand management for nations, cities and regions

2. Place – This covers the physical aspects of a city, including general

infrastructure, sporting venues, transport connectivity, attractiveness

and beauty of the city, weather, etc.

3. Potential – This is primarily concerned with with the opportunities

that the place can offer to international sport and the key indicators
for these are the city’s ambitions, any known strategy and/or concrete
plans and the resources that have been made available to realise such

4. Pulse – This has to do with the vibrancy and appeal that is an important
part of each city’s image, and in practical terms, has to do with how
exciting and fun the city is perceived to be.

5. People – The people determine the capabilities, work culture and tone
of the city and this criterion consists of components such as education,
skills, languages, work ethic, openness, friendliness, etc.

6. Proposition – This has to do with what the city can offer international
sports as its key value proposition and how attractive and unique that
offer is.

Based on the strength of the components under each criterion, a score

from 1 to 5 is assigned for each criterion as follows:

Equivalent score Qualitative rating

5 Very good
4 Good
3 Fair
2 Poor
1 Very poor

The scores will be mapped out on the hexagon model to provide a visual
representation for the profile of each city. Such a representation not only
provides a visual representation for comparing the city and its competi-
tors, but will also extract further insights at a later stage when looking for
strategic opportunities.

Example of a city profile





In the third and final section, the analysis concludes with a summary of
the city’s key strengths and weaknesses (see example at the end of chap-
ter). This will form the most tangible and direct input for development of
the subsequent positioning and strategy.

After this analysis has been completed for each competitor, it should also
be conducted for the strategising city. However, it is important that this
analysis be conducted by an external party to ensure the analysis is ob-

Wrapping up the analysis

After the analysis has been conducted for the strategising city and each
of its competitors, the analysis concludes with a matrix of scores for all
the cities across the six criteria. Looking at such a matrix, the strat-
egising city, City X, can then see where its comparative strengths and
weaknesses are relative to its competitors. This provides an indication of
which cities are City X’s strongest competitors and where City X stands

among this field.

Six-criteria matrix: Comparing ‘City X’ with competitors

Competitor Competitor Competitor Competitor Competitor

Criteria: City X

Presence 5 2 4 3 3 3

Place 4 3 4 4 4 3

Potential 4 3 3 5 4 2

Pulse 4 5 3 4 4 3

People 2 4 2 4 2 3

Proposition 1 2 3 3 4 2

TOTAL 20 19 19 23 21 16

Another useful application of the sports city profile hexagon is using it

to find out what strategic challenges and opportunities the field of com-
petitors pose to the strategising city as a whole. This can be done by
superimposing the hexagon profiles of all the competitors onto a single
hexagon space.

When all five competitive city profiles are superimposed onto a single
hexagon, City X can make observations based on the concentration of
scorings to explore opportunities for competitive advantage among the
field of competitors.

Using the example of City X, the observations that can be made are:

1. Competitors all have strong “places” – This implies that even though
City X may be strong in this criterion, it would not prove to be an effec-
tive differentiating advantage between itself and the rest of the field.

2. Opportunity to exploit “people” – Aside from one other city, the competi-
tion scores low in this criterion, as reflected by the rather “empty” space

Combined profiles of ‘City X ‘ competitors





on the “people” axis. This presents an opportunity for City X to leverage

this weakness in its competitors and differentiate itself from the rest.

3. Opportunity to exploit “proposition” - Besides one other city, the field of

competition has obtained low scores in this criterion, indicating a gen-
eral lack of clarity for what the competitors actually offer to the world
of sports and reasons why events should go to these cities over others.
Again, this presents an opportunity for City X to differentiate itself from
the field by having a very clear and attractive proposition.

Using the analysis for positioning

Positioning, according to classic marketing theory, is about portraying a

certain identity or image in the minds of the target audience.6 For a city
that is interested in hosting sports events, this is equivalent to finding the
right image, identity and message that the city should communicate to
the world of international sport.

6 Ries, Al and Trout, Jack (1981). Positioning: The Battle for your Mind

Thus, a city’s positioning should be based on the relative differences be-

tween the city and its competition, emphasizing the positive differences.
Positioning should also address the challenges a city faces and leverage
the opportunities it has.

This is why the competitor analysis serves as an important source of

information for developing a city’s positioning. From experience, espe-
cially when a large field of competitors has been analysed, it is useful to
converge the findings further by condensing the output of the competitor
analysis to a concluding list of “Strategic Opportunities” and “Strategic
Challenges.” These can be listed on one page and referred to while de-
liberating the positioning.

While the work up to this point has been quite methodical and expli-
cable, the actual formulation of a positioning extends into the creative
dimension. As such, it is virtually impossible to document in a way that
can be useful to the reader. However, we want to provide a few guide-
lines for positioning that have served us well in our many assignments
with city clients.

The positioning should be something that:

1. Can be demonstrated – The positioning must be something that can be

demonstrated for it to be believable. For the positioning to be believ-
able and not viewed simply as propaganda, the positioning should not
only be communicated through various communication channels, but
also needs to be demonstrated in reality. In other words, it needs to be
demonstrated through activities that people can see, not just hearing
about it.

2. Shows practical benefit – Make it clear in the positioning what the

practical benefits of coming to the city (e.g. “What’s in it for me?”). Too
many cities talk about their grand plans without actually formulating it
in a way that shows how all those plans can actually benefit the sports
world. The practical benefit that the city can bring to the sports world
needs to be incorporated and clearly communicated in the positioning
of the city.

3. Is Unique – The positioning should be unique to the city and not some-

thing that can be copied easily. This ensures that the city stands out
from the crowd with its value proposition. Very often, this is about find-
ing a city’s combination of strengths and unique qualities to position
the city apart from the rest.

As more cities step into the arena to battle for sports events, the importance
of conducting a competitor analysis before strategising becomes ever more
critical. This idea is nicely summed up by Sun Tzu in the Art of War, "Know
your enemy and know yourself, and you will fight 100 battles without peril.”7


Positioning Singapore as a sporting destination

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) is Singapore’s lead govern-

ment agency tasked with developing sports in Singapore. SSC
aims to develop sports champions and create enjoyable sporting

7 Sun-tzu and Michaelson (2001) Sun Tzu: The Art of War for Managers - 50 strategic rules


experiences for Singapore through three strategic means: culti-

vating a sporting culture, achieving sports excellence and creat-
ing a vibrant sports industry. With the goal of creating a vibrant
sports industry by developing a strong and self-sustainable sports
eco-system in Singapore, SSC initially engaged TSE Consulting
to assess how Singapore and its current sports-related initiatives
are perceived around the world. Additionally, SSC asked TSE to
help the organisation conceptualise a focused strategy that posi-
tions the city-state optimally within the sports industry.

The effort
In response to SSC’s needs, TSE undertook a six-month study
on behalf of the organisation. The main components of this
study were:

• Survey
• Market Overview
• Competitor Analysis
• Positioning Strategy

A TSE Survey was the first step of the study to obtain qualita-
tive feedback from key players in international sport (e.g. sen-
ior executives from IFs, sport businesses, sports media and
other key influencers) about their perception of Singapore as
a sporting destination.

A few key findings in this survey were: (1) high levels of con-
fidence in Singapore’s ability to operate as a sports business
centre and in the organisation of events; (2) perception of
Singapore as a highly attractive destination for meetings and
conventions; and (3) room for improvement in Singapore’s re-
lationship with the international sports world.

These findings helped SSC to understand how Singapore was
perceived by a specific target audience. These insights were
factored into the subsequent positioning strategy by building
on positive perceptions and addressing negative ones.

Market Overview
The Market Overview involved research of the different areas
that make up the sports industry as a whole (e.g. sports events,
sports administration, sports medicine and science, sports com-
mercial services, etc.). This part of the study explored the market
for each of these areas and identified synergies between them
to facilitate understanding of the dynamics of this eco-system.

The market overview for each of these areas used the follow-
ing framework:

• The landscape – Explore market segmentation, demands

and trends
• Key players – Identify the cities/countries that are the
strongest in this area and why they are strong
• Synergies – Identify the potential synergies that each area
has in relation to other areas

Understanding the dynamics of the sports industry and who the

key players are enabled SSC to deliberate and design an opti-
mal positioning for Singapore based on real market conditions.

Competitor Analysis
The main purpose of the Competitor Analysis was to analyse
the competitive environment to generate decision-relevant
insights for the subsequent positioning strategy. This proc-
ess involved the identification of Singapore’s competitors, fol-
lowed by research and analysis that explored the background,


profile, strategies and the key strengths and weaknesses of

these competitors.

Dubai, Doha, Seoul, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur were iden-
tified as competitors because they are each Asian cities and
they have either an existing industry-focused approach or a
profile that poses a strong potential threat. Besides uncover-
ing the key strengths and weaknesses of these competitors,
the analysis revealed opportunities in the “people” and “prop-
osition” criteria where Singapore can capitalise on its relative
superiority in these areas to gain a competitive advantage.

Positioning Strategy
In this core section of the study, conclusions were formed that
led to the development of a strong positioning strategy.

The following were Singapore’s strategic challenges and op-

portunities based on the earlier findings:

Strategic challenges Strategic opportunities

1. Sports and Singapore do 1. The people of Singapore
not have a strong con- stand out with many posi-
nection tive attributes
2. Lack of influence and 2. Combination of unique
bargaining power in strengths (e.g. internation-
international sports al hub, top MICE destina-
3. It is not the only place tion, etc.)
with good infrastructure 3. The vision, resources and
4. Benefits that it can offer team are in place
are rather intangible 4. Events and MICE the focal
point to drive sports indus-
try development

Based on these strategic considerations, the following po-
sitioning statement for Sporting Singapore was proposed:
“Transforming sporting plans and ideas into new successes”

This positioning statement is built upon the following three key


1. A transformational place – A place that is continually trans-

forming to achieve success and build a better future through
reinvention and innovation.
2. A comprehensive plan – A nation with a comprehensive
sports plan, driven by long-term government investments
in infrastructure, events and programmes to develop a
sports industry eco-system.
3. A collaborative approach – A people with the experience and
know-how to collaborate across diverse pursuits and interna-
tional boundaries to achieve mutual and sustainable benefits.

The positioning exercise concluded with an action plan detailing the

recommended actions for effectively communicating Singapore’s
positioning to key stakeholders in the world of international sport.

Key learnings

• It is essential for a strategising city to survey how it is per-

ceived by its target audience and to research the dynamics
of the industry sectors that it is targeting – the results could
be quite different from what is often imagined.

• It is vital to identify correctly who the competition is and

what their relative strengths and weaknesses are before
thinking about strategy – otherwise you risk strategising
against irrelevant competition and losing focus.